RATED R

The 911R might have a name­sake in the lat­est 991, but its most di­rect de­scen­dent was born in Cal­i­for­nia…

Classic Porsche - - Contents - Words: Alex Grant Pho­tos: Andy Tip­ping

356 out­law spe­cial­ist Rod Emory builds him­self a 911R-style coupé

Built in low num­bers and now sold at strato­spheric prices, race-bred Porsches have be­come as in­ac­ces­si­ble to most of us as they are achingly de­sir­able. But the no-frills en­gi­neer­ing that won races and found these cars homes in the worldʼs most ex­clu­sive col­lec­tions have in­spired more than wish lists. Theyʼve laid the foun­da­tions for a new gen­er­a­tion – be­spoke hot rods, rein­ter­pret­ing decades-old ideas with the ad­van­tage of tech­nol­ogy the fac­tory could only have dreamed of.

Even in a long list of ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cials, the 911R has al­ways felt a cut above. It might not be the fastest car to wear the badge, but this light­weight, road-le­gal racer re­flects the 911 in its purest form – com­pact, nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated and in­cred­i­bly di­rect to drive. Stripped down to its most es­sen­tial parts and fit­ted with glass­fi­bre pan­els, it was al­most a quar­ter lighter than a 911S, while its 2.0-litre, twin-spark, du­alWe­bered en­gine was close to that of the 906, and made 210bhp. Only 24 were ever built, in­clud­ing pro­to­types and Porscheʼs own rac­ers – itʼs the per­fect pack­age, but one that few have had a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence first hand.

But you can come close. Re­stored at Emory Mo­tor­sports

in Cal­i­for­nia, what youʼre look­ing at here is­nʼt one of the 24, but itʼs cer­tainly cut from the same cloth. For shop owner, Rod Emory, itʼs bring­ing a lit­tle of that 1966 de­sign brief back to life: ʻItʼs raw, loud, ob­nox­ious, and ab­so­lutely thrilling,ʼ he en­thuses, as the warm me­chan­i­cal parts ʻtink-tinkʼ them­selves cool. ʻEvery­thing is light­weight, itʼs a street-le­gal race car through and through, just like the GT3 RS. Itʼs a com­bi­na­tion of awe­some that you can en­ter into road rally events, or for vin­tage rac­ing, but also drive ev­ery day.ʼ

Some of the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind it goes back even fur­ther than 1966. A third-gen­er­a­tion hot-rod­der, Rodʼs grand­fa­ther had a shop not far from this spot be­fore be­ing re­cruited by a Porsche dealer; itʼs a clash of au­to­mo­tive cul­tures he would pass on to his son. And while the lo­cal Porsche scene of the 1980s re­volved around faith­ful fac­tory-spec restora­tions of the 356, Rod and his dad were pi­o­neer­ing a new style; re­mov­ing bumpers, fit­ting wide wheels, big en­gines and adding race num­bers. Im­pec­ca­bly built, but de­signed to be driven hard, those ʻout­lawʼ cars would be­come a hot-rod house­hold name.

Thatʼs a legacy Rod has kept up. Emory Mo­tor­sports opened its doors in 1996, home to the tools and tal­ent to

take on con­cours-spec restora­tions, but with the imag­i­na­tion to go so much fur­ther.

ʻWe only take on the work of build­ing out­laws and spe­cials for clien­tele who un­der­stand and ap­pre­ci­ate what we do,ʼ he ex­plains. ʻWe have the abil­ity to do con­cours-qual­ity restora­tions but that type of work re­ally does­nʼt in­ter­est us, and there are so many other fine shops who al­ready do that.ʼ

Itʼs a pro­lific blood­line. Gen­er­a­tions of the Emory fam­ily have built around 150 356 out­laws since the early 1980s, with a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion more re­cently into early 911s. Itʼs an evo­lu­tion of a tested – but al­ways unique – formula which throws up some fa­mil­iar hur­dles, as well as a load of new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

ʻThe 911 of­fers just as much cre­ative flex­i­bil­ity as a 356, but with­out the need to mod­ify the chas­sis for later model sus­pen­sion com­po­nents like we do with our 356s. Weʼve built ten 911s so far, and itʼs such a won­der­ful plat­form – weʼve even blended a 964 chas­sis with a 356 body to make the worldʼs first all-wheel drive 356. In the early cars, like this, weʼre find­ing the same rust and dam­age weʼre used to en­coun­ter­ing in the 356s.ʼ

This is, at its core, a restora­tion, not a sur­facelevel tune-up. All out­laws get stripped back to a bare ʼshell to check for rust and hid­den dam­age and, de­spite spend­ing most of its life in a damp

“THIS IS, AT ITS CORE, A RESTORA­TION…”

part of Ore­gon, this ʼ67 S had fared well. Not that much of the orig­i­nal body­work is left – the wings, bumpers and bon­net are glass­fi­bre, paired with a later-spec alu­minium deck­lid to bring it close to the Baur-built body­work of the 911R. A homage com­pleted by the cor­rect twin-pod tail lights, the ex­ter­nal oil filler cap on the right hand rear wing, and al­loy-capped fuel filler neck cut into the cen­tre of the bon­net.

Find­ing those parts can be tough, says Rod: “Thereʼs usu­ally about 10 per cent of the car that has to be made from scratch. Where we can, we al­ways use fac­tory orig­i­nal parts to build these cars or the best pos­si­ble re­pro­duc­tion pan­els and com­po­nents. Thereʼs al­ways a fair amount of time per­fect­ing the fit of ev­ery as­pect of the ex­te­rior and in­te­rior.ʼ

That nine-month restora­tion of the body­work ran in par­al­lel with putting the right parts un­der­neath; larger sway bars and tor­sion bars, an Ele­phant Rac­ing front strut brace and re­mov­able roll bar inside, all a lit­tle closer to the Tar­mac than Porsche in­tended thanks to ad­justable Koni sus­pen­sion. Even the stag­gered six- and seven-inch wide Fuchs wheels, re­stored by Cal­i­for­nian spe­cial­ist Har­vey Wei­d­man, are 100 per cent cor­rect 911R spec.

ʻEach car ʼs fea­tures have to make sense as a pack­age,ʼ ex­plains Rod. ʻSome items may be slightly anachro­nis­tic but, as we de­sign, we ask our­selves whether Porsche would have built some­thing like this. The an­swer to that al­ways has to be yes, based on the broad range of ex­pe­ri­ence my fam­ily has rac­ing and restor­ing works com­pe­ti­tion cars.ʼ

The en­gine re­build was one of the few parts of the project not un­der­taken in-house. Rod knows spe­cial­ists who can tackle ar­eas out­side their usual ex­per­tise, and called in renowned en­gine builder Dick Elverude to put to­gether an

al­ter­na­tive to the Rʼs race-de­rived 901/22 en­gine. Itʼs a slight de­vi­a­tion, a twin-plug en­gine dis­plac­ing 2.5-litres in­stead of 2.0-litres, which puts out 230bhp through a close-ra­tio gearset and lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial.

ʻThose orig­i­nal rally cars from the early 1970s were just cool as hell, and so light weight,ʼ he says. ʻThe gross ve­hi­cle weight here is around 2200lbs (1000kg) – the ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing a nor­mal 911 and a light­weight ver­sion is like night and day, es­pe­cially with the en­gine that this car has.ʼ

Like­wise, the cabin is­nʼt quite as de­prived of lux­u­ries as that of the 911R. Its win­dows are still glass, opened with winders rather than leather straps, and all five in­stru­ment pods are still present. But thereʼs a real sense of it be­ing built for pur­pose, with its Rs-style car­pet set spread across the stripped rear end, the bare glass­fi­bre dash­board, and pe­riod-cor­rect bucket seats and har­nesses. After all, this is a rein­ter­pre­ta­tion, not a replica: ʻThe most dif­fi­cult part of what we do is mak­ing sure that the fin­ished car passes the cool test. Ev­ery­thing has to make sense and the car needs to be “all-busi­ness” from ev­ery an­gle. Some­times the build needs to be tai­lored as we go be­cause you can see in your mindʼs eye that some­thing is­nʼt go­ing to work.ʼ

And this def­i­nitely works; lighter than a mod­ern day city car, but with the per­for­mance to keep up with mod­ern day su­per­cars, this one-off out­law is ev­ery bit the purest-of-the-pure 911 ex­pe­ri­ence thatʼs made the R so iconic. Who says you have to fol­low the rules? CP

“COOL AS HELL AND SO LIGHT WEIGHT…”

Above: Look­ing ev­ery inch as slick and pur­pose­ful as the orig­i­nal 911R, Emory’s mod­ern day rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the fac­tory light­weight is based on a 1967 911S

Above: Dual Hella rear lights are a vi­tal part of the trans­for­ma­tion from ‘S’ to ‘R’. Only the lack of lou­vred Plex­i­glas quar­ter win­dows give the game away

Be­low, left and right: Dash­board houses early green-let­tered gauges mounted be­neath a plain glass­fi­bre dash-top mould­ing. Note orig­i­nal out­side air tem­per­a­ture gauge

Be­low: With only 1000kg to carry round, you just know Emory’s homage to the 911R is go­ing to be a fun drive

Above, left to right: Pe­ri­od­style roll­bar adds to the ef­fect, as does the through the bon­net fuel filler. 2.5-litre en­gine pumps out 230bhp

Above Left: Rod Emory comes from a fam­ily of hotrod­ders, so it comes as no sur­prise to learn he prefers to build out­laws rather than carry out full-on restora­tions

Be­low left: Light­weight plas­tic door han­dles were a fea­ture of the orig­i­nal 911R

Be­low: Har­vey Wei­d­man is the man re­spon­si­ble for the wheel de­tail­ing

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.